Matthew Flinders was a fearless, sharp-eyed, handsome adventurer who explored the furthest reaches of Australia, and was the first European to circumnavigate and map the vast island continent.
He also gave our nation its name.
Growing up in rural England, Flinders became fascinated with the sea, inspired by the adventure story of Robinson Crusoe and the history-making explorations of Captain James Cook. While not much more than a boy, Flinders fought in great naval battles against the French, and from a young age was at the forefront of major voyages of discovery that took him right around the globe.
With Sir Joseph Banks, England’s foremost scientist as his mentor, Flinders set off in 1801 on one of the most important voyages of discovery ever undertaken, to circumnavigate the Great South Land.
Together with his Aboriginal guide Bungaree and his beloved rescue cat Trim, Flinders meticulously recorded its rugged coastlines, using the title ‘Australia’ on his maps – maps so accurate they are still used today. Flinders recorded his work and adventures in what would become his famous book and atlas, which announced to the world the true nature of the continent’s treasures – and its Indigenous people.
But rather than bask in the accolades of his extraordinary feat, Flinders then spent years as a virtual political prisoner trapped off the coast of Africa when rushing home to his beloved wife, Ann, in England. His love for her, and his heart-breaking fight to escape his prison bonds to be with her again, was the last great adventure of a fascinating life.